By Sarah Bennett
By Adam Lovinus
By Jena Ardell
By Nate Jackson
By Gustavo Arellano
By Nick Keppler
By Nate Jackson
By Alex Distefano
Time is a motherfucker. It slows the mind, crushes the spirit and softens all the interesting pointy edges. Think something like taking acid and speeding down the Autobahn to play a packed punk show and then sleep in a squat with transvestite hookers is a good idea? That's one of the first things you'll lose, just before your hearing and your knees. Guitarist Chris Rest of Rich Kids on LSD (carved on the bottom of every skateboard in the '80s as RKL) knows how tough it is to finally let those hookers go: "We're slow and old now," says Rest. "The livers can only take so much."
But before getting slow and old, RKL were--naturally--fast and young, creating a blueprint for hardcore punk rock supercharged with a heavy-metal drum-and-guitar sound that's brought fame--and large fortunes—to other bands. That patented NOFX boom-chik-boom-chik? That's RKL. That skater/punker Warped Tour punk feel the Offspring rode to the charts? That's RKL, too.
Both bands added a bit of a pop gloss--the Bad Religion formula--but the engine and energy that made both of those bands big hits with the extreme-sports crowd comes right from RKL's never-quite-crossover blend of metal and punk. Rest and fellow guitarist Chris Flippin have both found more success in their other band—Lagwagon, Warped Tour faves of yore themselves--than they ever had in RKL. So is RKL a little pissed at being left in the financial dust? Maybe a few years ago, but time heals all, huh?
"I think we were more mad with ourselves because we didn't take what was given to us," says Rest. "We failed. We broke up at the worst time we could have. The seizure factor of RKL is tremendous."
Seizure factor? Rest laughs.
"You can pretty much guarantee that we will never get anything done on time like we're supposed to."
RKL stumbled out of Santa Barbara in the mid-'80s; while still in their teens, they decided they needed to go to San Francisco, so they piled into a Datsun pickup and made the trip without a gig or a place to stay. They met up with likeminded acronym bands MDC (Millions of Dead Cops) and DRI (Dirty Rotten Imbeciles) and were introduced to the Vats—an abandoned Hamm's brewery where a generation of bands rehearsed and lived. By the end of the night, they already had a show.
Those were the golden years: the band went on to record albums such as Keep Laughing for the now-notorious-for-ripping-bands-off label Mystic, setting the standard with songs like "Senseless Violence" but never seeing any revenue. But Rest doesn't even worry about Mystic anymore.
"Believe it or not, I'm sure it helped us a lot," he says. "Without Mystic Records, we may've never had a record. We may never even have stayed together. They never did pay us one cent, but now that I look back on it, I think people consider those records classics or semi-legendary. So I'm glad they're there."
And on the way, the band became a big draw in the underground--and yeah, while they weren't quite Rich Kids, they took a lot of LSD. "It always felt like the best show in the world to us," says Rest, "but I don't know what it sounded like on the other side."
Now they're old kids on beer. Rest hasn't done acid since 1989. Monster drummer Bomber was a casualty of the RKL way of life, though. According to Rest, he's on SSI for mental disability. With Lagwagon on semi-hiatus, Rest and his band mates decided to reunite RKL for at least the third time. He realizes they're older than the average punk band but promises the age won't show when they hit the stage--time's given him some wrinkles, but it's also given him a little perspective. And he leaves the shit-talking to the kids: "We've had problems in the past," he says. "The only thing that's hurt our band is our band. That's all behind us."
RKL PERFORMS WITH FRANKI AND THE UNFORTUNATE BASTARDS, AMERIKAN MADE AND DEVIL'S JUNCTION AT FITZGERALD'S IRISH PUB, 19171 MAGNOLIA ST., HUNTINGTON BEACH, (714) 968-4523. SAT., 8 PM. $12. 21+.